Adam Powell will make his Newcastle Falcons debut in tomorrow night’s RFU Championship clash with Nottingham at Meadow Lane (kick-off 7.45pm).
The 26-year-old centre who has made the move north from Saracens is one of two changes as the Falcons aim to maintain their unbeaten run going into the play-offs.
Gloucester-bound James Hudson misses out through injury with Sean Tomes getting the nod in the engine room.
“Nottingham are a good side and they have a lot of quality players at their disposal,” said director of rugby Dean Richards.
“They have a really good, well-balanced team that plays a good brand of rugby, and the pitch at Meadow Lane has enabled them to play good rugby all year,” he added.
Richards’ men defeated Nottingham 29-9 in the reverse fixture back in November, and the Falcons boss is expecting another stern test against the East Midlands club.
“It is no surprise to see them where they are,” Richards said of second place Nottingham.
He added: “It is actually a surprise to see how they have slipped up on a couple of games this season, games that they probably should have won.
“They are a good team with good coaches.”
Newcastle come into this weekend’s clash on the back of an edgy affair with Bedford Blues a fortnight ago, in which a Noah Cato try and a Jimmy Gopperth conversion in the dying embers of the game ensured the Falcons’ 100% record remained intact.
Richards said: “After the Bedford game we spoke to the players about how we can control the game better, and I think it is fair to say that we went a little bit off-plan against them which is disappointing, but at the same time the boys know exactly where we went wrong.
“They understand how they can put things right this week, and they are itching to get out there and show what they can do.”
Newcastle Falcons: 15 Tom Catterick, 14 Noah Cato, 13 Adam Powell, 12 Jamie Helleur, 11 Ryan Shortland, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Rory Lawson, 1 Jonny Golding, 2 Matt Thompson, 3 Oliver Tomaszczyk, 4 Sean Tomes, 5 Scott MacLeod, 6 Mark Wilson, 7 Will Welch (c), 8 Ally Hogg
Replacements: 16 Rob Vickers, 17 Kieran Brookes, 18 James Goode, 19 Ollie Stedman, 20 Warren Fury, 21 Joel Hodgson, 22 Alex Crockett